Nickie Shobeiry is Apt613’s correspondent at Synapcity, Ottawa non-profit for civic engagement, connecting people across diverse communities to share perspectives and create positive change.
Bad + Bitchy is an intersectional feminist podcast covering politics, social issues and pop culture, co-hosted by Erin Gee, Erica Ifill, and Amy Kishek.
Below, we speak with them about their journey.
You started Bad & Bitchy in 2017. How has it been?
Erin: It’s been very cathartic, particularly since Donald Trump was inaugurated. For us to have this way to bring intersectional feminism to a wider audience has been really meaningful for us.
And Amy, why did you want to join as co-host?
Amy: It’s great to put feminism into practice in a way that’s more creative, less academic, and more engaged with news as it happens. It’s hard once you’re out of the academic world to find a place to realize, practice, and act on your feminism constructively, and outside of the siloed work that maybe you do professionally day to day.
I’m a lawyer and do labor laws specifically. It’s very political but it can be a little narrow, so it’s nice to get exposed to different areas. Especially the pop culture stuff that we do – that’s always fun!
The three of you do so much as it is for your community. Do ever feel like you’re doing too much?
Erin: I have my day job, I have the podcast, and I also teach spin a few times a week. I always feel like I need to do more to make the world suck less. Being able to think about things that happen on a daily basis in a more critical manner is mentally stimulating, and it’s rewarding to communicate that to others.
Amy: I’ve always been active in the community. This is actually me scaling back, trying to focus my energies so I could be most constructive.
What’s unique about doing this podcast in Ottawa?
Amy: We definitely have the advantage of being in the Ottawa political bubble. If you’re outside of Ottawa, you may not get the nuances and the dynamics as they play out here. That’s helped us with some of the coverage around sexual harassment on the Hill, but also day-to-day political priorities of the government of the day.
Erica, why are you part of Bad + Bitchy?
Erica: As racially marginalized people growing up in Canada – especially if you grew up in the 80’s, 90’s – there’s really no voice for us. There’s a common language, a subtext that kids who have immigrant parents who aren’t white understand and speak amongst themselves. I still feel like there’s a large demographic of us that’s being largely ignored.
How have your viewpoints changed since coming together?
Erin: It’s put into words a lot of the systemic racism and sexism that I always felt was there, but didn’t know how to articulate. That’s where Erica is very strong, and that’s really taught about the way we view and treat people of colour. I can pass as white – I’m racially ambiguous. It’s hard for me to relate sometimes, so I think that’s definitely provided me with new perspective. This isn’t a racial example, but I’m asked at work if I’m the admin assistant because of where I sit in the office – because I’m a woman. We had someone call me a little girl, because I look young, when I’m one of the oldest in the office.
You do events too: how do you successfully facilitate tough debates?
Erin: We really think it’s important to create space for people to share their own lived experience, which is what we try to do on the podcast.
Erica: Traditionally there’s been an elitist approach to civil discourse in Canada. You need both the grassroots and the institution – and the institution should be informed by the grassroots. They’re the ones closest to the issues, they’re the ones on the ground.
Erin, you mentioned making the world suck less. How do we do that?
Erin: Information is powerful, and an informed electorate is powerful. Some people find social media and the news overwhelming – they just don’t make time for it. Those people are very privileged to be able to turn a blind eye. They may believe they’re feminists because they believe in the economic and social equity of men and women, but they don’t think about it from an intersectional lens. By raising these issues and them listening to it, they’re realizing that their experience isn’t the only experience, and they become more mindful in their decisions, whether they’re personal or business decisions.
Erica: I really, really, want people to be just a little bit more authentic. Look in your truth, and if your truth is that things are pretty shitty because there’s racism, then that’s your truth, and it’s valid, and it’s valuable. We have been adhering to what constitutes success based on a white male model and I’m just sick of it.
Amy: I think the other thing would be to get people to be a little bit angrier and a little bit more expressive. Aside from not being able to because of career – which I’m sensitive to – there are a lot of people who are very complacent and who put politeness above the value of being honest and forthright. I would like to encourage more people to express anger and frustration and for those to be seen as just as legitimate.
A CityMaker is someone who acts to make their city better. What advice do you have for those who want to be CityMakers?
Erica: The internet is there, there are free tools to do whatever you want to do. You reach out to the people – but people are scared, they’re scared to even start. I can’t help you with fear – that’s on you.
Erin: The most important thing is to put yourself out there. I hate going to events by myself, I hate talking to strangers, but I do it, because I know that I’m gonna get benefit from it in the long run, whether it’s immediate or down the road, whether it’s connecting people you meet with other people you’ve met before. People remember those things and they will pay it back to you.
Amy: To add to that – Ottawa’s fantastic; there are a lot of great people innovating, and everyone is super friendly. I really love the community feel in this city, people are very open to collaboration. I love the spirit of that.
You can keep up with Bad + Bitchy on Twitter & Facebook: @badandbitchy.